President Donald Trump told the New York Times in a fiery new interview that there’s a “red line” he believes special counsel Robert Mueller should not cross while carrying out the controversial Russia investigation: digging into his family’s finances beyond the Russia scope.
Asked by the NYT reporters Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt about whether an investigation into these details would represent some kind of breach, Trump responded affirmatively.
Although the commander in chief explained that somebody from Russia could have bought a condo, he assures he doesn’t make money from this country. In fact, he told that while he could have made a deal and held the Miss Universe pageant there some years ago, he doesn’t even have any buildings in Russia.
Furthermore, the President said digging into his finances would represent a clear “violation” of what the investigation is supposed to focus on, and showed his confronting side by assuring that if Mueller wants to go there he will find out that his finances are “extremely good.”
This part of the interview opened a controversial moment, given the fact that while the President did recognize that he believes Mueller poking through finances would be a violation, he wouldn’t confirm to the NYT whether such investigation would led him to firing the special counsel.
In fact, Trump said he couldn’t answer that question, and only responded “ I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Without any kind of doubt, the President’s comments to the media outlet indicate he’s preparing to get more aggressive in challenging the credibility of the controversial investigation.
The biggest evidence was that even when it was unclear under what circumstances –if any- he might order the Justice Department to fire the special counsel, he complained anew that Mueller was hiring lawyers who donated to his rival in the presidential campaign Hillary Clinton. Additionally, Trump mentioned how Mueller had interviewed for the job to replace former FBI director James Comey before just before his appointment.
Regarding this moment, Trump said he felt shocked that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named him as special counsel just “the next day” following the job interview. The President also revealed there were many other conflicts that he hasn’t said, but assured: “I will at some point.”
Although many people have considered these comments as highly controversial, this is not the first time President Trump has sounded off on the Mueller probe. Last month, he said Mueller’s friendship with Comey was “very bothersome,” and complained about how many members of the special counsel’s team worked for Clinton.
Regarding Mueller’s integrity, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on “The Story” that he made the decision to appoint Mueller based upon his reputation, since he assured the special counsel has an excellent one.
Also, Rosenstein said that people must take into consideration that the point of having a special counsel is only to have a certain degree of independence from the Department of Justice. Given this assertion, he told that Mueller will not report to him about individual decisions made in the investigation.
The special counsel Robert Mueller is tasked with overseeing the investigation into the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This includes whether Trump´s campaign colluded with Russian officials.
TRUMP: Mueller has conflicts of interest, probing family finances unrelated to Russia would cross a red line.
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) 20 de julio de 2017
Mueller’s team is already investigating the finances of White House senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, with federal prosecutors also taking a look at the financial dealings of the President associates such as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
As reported in a previous article, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently called on Congress to abolish Mueller’s investigation. The reasons he pointed out were not only the donors´ issue, but also that Comey´s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will interfere with the special counsel´s ability to conduct an impartial investigation.
In addition, Gingrich told that the GOP must be delusional if they think Mueller is going to be fair during the investigation, since he assured the special counsel is well-known for having a lot of antipathy towards the President.
So far, at least four members of Mueller’s team are known for donating to Democratic presidential campaigns and organizations. These are Jeannie Rhee, who works as a partner in the investigations practice at WilmerHale, Michael Dreeben, Andrew Weissman, and James Quarles.